Speaking Armenian

One of my concerns before coming to Yerevan was that I wouldn’t be able to fully express myself in Armenian. Yes I went to Armenian school, and can read and write, but I admittedly don’t practice either that frequently in America. Of course, growing up we weren’t allowed to speak anything but Armenian at home, but as anyone who lives in the US knows, sadly we feel more comfortable speaking to our Armenian friends in English.

I’m happy to say that since being here, my vocabulary has improved significantly. I’ve been forced to have both surface and in-depth conversations in Armenian with everyone from relatives to new friends to taxi drivers to store employees. When I hear a word I don’t understand, I jot it and its meaning down. And then randomly I’ll hear myself say a new word in a conversation and I get pleasantly surprised. My brother uses impressive terms that I have no idea what they mean (we had a whole conversation about “himnakanoom,” which means fundamentally, since I hear it so often) but that’s after him being here for 3 years. He’s mentioned that he really enjoys speaking Armenian on a daily basis, and I have to agree, it’s really sweet.

Earlier this week I went to Kino Moskva to watch 1915 the movie, and it was dubbed in Armenian (I’m honestly thankful I didn’t accidentally go into the one in Russian). I won’t lie, it was a bit odd seeing a film all in Armenian: the voiceovers were a bit comical and there were many words I didn’t know, but I did get the gist of it. I still have a hard time understanding hosts on TV since they talk so fast and use crazy-long words, but I’m hoping that by continuing to practice, I’ll be able to not only understand but use those words I keep hearing left and right.

Here are a few everyday terms I’ve learned so far:

  • Saylak = cart
  • Amragotee = seatbelt
  • Khtzanoom = traffic
  • Brtooch = sandwich
  • Bart = hard
  • Hashvich = meter
  • Mijotzaroom = event
  • Zookaher = parallel
  • Burak = park
  • Ltzak = connections
  • Andzerotzik = napkin
  • Mootzel = to pay
  • Gaza ltzakayan = gas station
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